GENCI breathes new life into French scientific research with OCCIGEN, a Bull supercomputer

24 Jun 2014 Paris - GENCI, the French national High-Performance Computing organisation, is to acquire France's largest supercomputer dedicated to research, capable of executing over two million billion operations a second. The move will rejuvenate by 8 times the computing resources available at CINES, enabling it to offer cutting-edge hardware for extreme computer simulations. Based on latest generation technologies, it will enable them to run a huge range of different applications in scientific areas as diverse as climatology, combustion, astrophysics, medicine and biology, plasmas physics and materials science.

"Since 2008, the investments made by GENCI have facilitated the complete overhaul of all hardware at the three national computing centres, and allowed us to offer the French scientific community the same kinds of levels of computing power to those enjoyed by their European counterparts, on leading-edge systems appropriate to their needs. This is an essential prerequisite to put France in the best position at a European and an international level, and to support both our scientific and our industrial competitiveness", stressed Catherine Rivière, CEO of GENCI.

The system Bull is providing was chosen by GENCI following an open, highly competitive tendering process including a very strict specification with a considerable focus on energy optimization for simulations and financial assessment taking into account the total cost of ownership of the supercomputer over its entire expected lifespan.

With this in mind, the cooling system developed by Bull and the technical expertise of the Bull High-Performance Computing (HPC) teams in supporting application optimization made all the difference. The 2,106 compute nodes will be cooled using warm water, via a direct liquid cooling system that removes the heat where it is generated through a cold plate in contact with the processors and memory modules. Thanks to this patented technology and the specific facilities of CINES, which features evaporative (adiabatic) coolers, the overall power consumption of the system will deliver a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of less than 1.1 for the computing elements.

The supercomputer will be equipped with next-generation Intel Xeon processors. This balanced system will have more than 200 TB of memory and its I/O system will allow it to store data on disk at a speed of over 100GB/s, which means that the supercomputer will be capable of accommodating any type of computer simulation and managing massive amounts of data. It is also designed to subsequently accommodate hybrid technologies.

"We are honoured to have been chosen by GENCI to deliver this system, which will allow French researchers to push back the boundaries of science. It is a recognition of the expertise of Bull's engineers in Europe in supercomputer technologies. And it is another foundation stone in the establishment of large-scale European HPC ecosystem, which is essential to support innovation, face up to global competition and ensure the creation of skilled jobs on our continent", commented Philippe Vannier, Chairman and CEO of Bull.

The new GENCI supercomputer - to be known as OCCIGEN - will come into full production in January 2015 at CINES in Montpellier. The plan is to make it available earlier to the French scientific community towards the end of 2014, to help them tackle major first scientific and industrial challenges. Various collaborations will also be led jointly by GENCI, CINES and Bull around the areas of energy efficiency, the management of massive data volumes and ensuring more widespread access to HPC for French SMEs.
Source: Bull